The situation was thick with irony. At the 2001 world championships in Edmonton, where Olga Yegorova of Russia was allowed to compete in—and win—the 5,000 meters despite a positive test for the banned performance-enhancing drug EPO (the test was successfully challenged on procedural grounds), Radcliffe scrawled a sign that read EPO CHEATS OUT and held it up in the front row of the stadium during the preliminary heats of Yegorova's race. "I felt like I had to stand up and do something," Radcliffe says. " Edmonton made a mockery of the entire doping situation."
Most successful distance runners (as well as cyclists) are presumed guilty of something. And now Radcliffe has spent time on the accused side of the issue. "That," she says, "hurts terribly." She was invited to attend a meeting of the antidoping commission of the IAAF (track's world governing body). "She felt a sincere frustration, and we appreciated her feelings," says Arne Ljungqvist of Sweden, chairman of the commission.
Radcliffe responded to the L'Equipe piece by asking the British track federation to release the results of her last 10 drug tests (it did; all were negative) and then authorizing the release of her blood tests taken before last fall's world half-marathon championship and the London Marathon. (Both were clean.) Now she goes further. She wants her own current blood and urine samples frozen for analysis when more sophisticated testing becomes available. Some athletes have supported her, but none have made such a sweeping offer. "It all seems so distracting," says O'Sullivan. "It's enough for me to get myself to the starting line."
It is not enough for Radcliffe. She must be fast and honest and someday proven clean. High in the mountains, the sky darkens as she finally slows her training pace. A ride home is offered, and declined. Radcliffe will jog instead. She takes no shortcuts.